QUEENS Park Rangers (QPR) midfielder Ebere Eze is unlikely to feature in Nigeria’s forthcoming African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Lesotho and Benin Republic next month as he will not have completed his nationality switch with Fifa by then.
Ebere, 21, has been in scintillating form for English Championship side QPR this season, scoring twice from the penalty spot on Saturday as his side recorded a hard fought 3-2 away win against Hull City. His brace brings to six the number of goals he has scored in 12 games this season.
Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr has long eyed Eze as a potential addition to his midfield where he can compete for the shirt with the likes of Wilfred Ndidi, Oghene Etebo, Joe Aribo and Rahmon Azeez. However, Eze has already featured for England at the U21 level, making his debut against Italy on October 11 2018 in a Uefa tournament.
Nigeria is due to kick off her qualification campaign for Cameroon 2021 next month and Mr Rohr had hoped to include Eze in his squad but this will now no longer be possible. Once a player has featured for another country at youth level, switching nationality will require clearance through Fifa and the process takes at least 12 months.
If Nigeria submits a request now, however, Eze will be able to feature in the latter stages of the qualifiers. In the past, Nigeria has been very successfully as attracting diasporans with dual nationality as the likes of Victor Moses, Ola Aina and Alex Iwobi all managed to make the switch without any hassle.
Diasporans who had never featured for the countries of their birth like William Ekong, Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo, Maduka Okoye, Bryan Idowu and Tyrone Ebuehi, were however, eligible to play for the Super Eagles straight away. Apart from Lesotho and Benin Republic, Sierra Leone is also in Nigeria’s 2021 Nations Cup qualification group, with only the top two teams going through.